Syrian activists call for more protests as EU introduces sanctions
Syrian activists called for countrywide protests on Tuesday in solidarity with thousands of anti-regime activists a day after they were rounded up by security forces in the coastal city of Banias. The call comes as the European Union put the president's brother, Maher Al-Assad on the top of a list of 13 Syrian officials facing sanctions.
Assad is described as the prime mover of repression against anti-government protestors on a list published by the EU's Official Journal. He comes ahead of General Ali Mamluk and the new Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar, appointed on 28 April.
On Monday the EU formally aiopted measures against Syrian officials deemed responsible for the regime's savage crackdown on protestors. These include visa bans and asset freezing.
The call for protests from the Syrian Revolution 2011 follows the latest security force bid to crush the anti-regime protest as troops went house-to-house in the town of Banias on Monday rounding up thousands of men.
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said thousands of men had been arrested, interrogated and beaten up.
Rahman told the French new agency that "residents hoped that the army would arrest regime supporters who have terrorised Banias but instead the army arrested unarmed residents."
Meanwhile, a senior government official said in an interview with the New York Times that she believes Assad's embattled government has ridden out the worst of the uprising.
Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to President Assad, said she thought the government had passed the most dangerous moment.
Assad, quoted on Monday in pro-government Al-Watan newspaper, vowed to press ahead with reform and forecast the political crisis in Syria was nearing an end,